The number one factor in maintaining brain function in later life is (drum roll, please) – an educated, active brain. Studies show that the more education you have, the more you are able to retain cognitive function and mental abilities as you age. So says Sam Wang, Ph.D. Professor of Molecular Biology and Neuroscience, Princeton University.
Professor Wang is the lecturer in the current course I am taking from The Great Courses entitled The Neuroscience of Everyday Life.
Additionally, Professor Wang is the co-author of the best-selling book Welcome to Your Brain which has been translated into 20 languages. I alluded to this book in my post entitled Tricking Your Brain into Helping You Lose Weight.
Why is it that the more education you have the more healthy a brain you possess as a senior citizen? Dr. Wang suggests that possibly higher education gives us mental tools for thinking. Also higher education is the province of people who are curious. So, in real life curiosity doesn’t kill the cat it builds skills in the dude.
He concludes, “There is something about an intellectually engaged lifestyle which is positively correlated with retained function late in life.”
He also suggested that having multiple hobbies, traveling and learning a new language contribute positively to retaining cognitive functioned and mental abilities as we age.
“Active learning is important in retaining mental function,” He said, “When you lead an intellectual lifestyle that builds up your cognitive capacities and they serve you well as you get older and decline less.”
Actually, there are a number of factors in maintaining brain function in later life. Please check out my page Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise).